Doha (GPA) – With no end of the Saudi blockade in sight, Qatar and Iran have re-established diplomatic relations instead.
With the list of Saudi demands hanging over their heads for nearly two months, it seems Qatar has lost patience with Riyadh. There are quite of few appalling orders on that list, relations between Doha and Tehran (which weren’t that close prior to the Saudi blockade) was one of the top ones.
Qatar has yet to comply with Saudi demands such as closing down state run news outlet Al Jazeera and now it seems they’re prepared to go even further by publicly choosing to work with Iran over Saudi Arabia. Relations between Iran and Qatar were originally cut off by Doha about 20 months ago in January of 2016. However, Doha could never fully cut off Iran due to sharing the world’s largest natural gas field. Relations between
Relations between Iran and Qatar were originally cut off by Doha about 20 months ago in January of 2016. The initial freeze came after attacks on Saudi facilities in Tehran as retribution for the execution of Shia cleric Nimr Al Nimr in Riyadh.
This obviously occurred when Qatar and Saudi Arabia were on better terms, but despite the closure of these facilities, Doha still kept in contact with Iran due to the aforementioned gas field. Qatar still didn’t make this publicly known but now it seems they are tired of Saudi Arabian pressure and working in their own interest again.
While the Saudis may have been able to go along with their plans in 2016, it seems they got too ambitious in 2017 when they began putting the screw to Qatar; closing all their land borders and banning flights to Doha. One nation that saw this as an opportunity to treat Qatar with respect, however, was Iran.
Following the blockade, Iran almost immediately began importing nearly 100 tons of food to Qatar on a daily basis. Qatar also received support from other regional powers such as Turkey and world powers like Russia, showing that they weren’t as isolated or dependent on the Saudis as Riyadh assumed.
Predictably, Qatar was emboldened by the new life in these relationships with Iran, Russia, and Turkey and is now acting in a capacity they didn’t know they had. Qatar never fully fell in line with the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia (which the Saudis expect from all their Gulf Cooperation Council partners) but now they know they don’t have to.
While Saudi Arabia was waiting for submission or plotting a coup, Qatar has clearly been busy charting their own path out of the standoff. This new attitude has already been showing in the shifts in coverage of Saudi Arabia by Al Jazeera. The Gulf crisis has also caused new complications for Saudi Arabia concerning their futile war in Yemen and sparked a new proxy conflict between Wahhabi and Salafist factions fighting in Syria.
The crisis has also caused the US to consider freezing arms sales to all the GCC nations until the standoff comes to an end. This has also been a win for other world powers, primarily Russia, who is filling the new demand.
The Gulf kingdoms have clearly thrown a wrench in the usually stable Arabian peninsula. Qatar shirking one of the Saudis most important demands shows that this show may just be getting started and Qatar might start dictating their own terms soon, and they’ll have the Saudis chief regional rival to back them up.